Saturday, December 04, 2004


Divers locate Coast Guard boat sunk in 1977


LMC-6 Landing Craft.

Ontario-On-The Lake, NY - The US Coast Guard boat, which sank in a storm December 1, 1977, has been located by local divers, Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville.

While on route from Oswego to Niagara, the 56-foot Coast Guard cable boat experienced 6-foot waves and winds of 50 mph as it approached Nine Mile Point on Lake Ontario. The boat, a converted landing craft (LCM) with an open deck, was taking water over the gunwale faster than the 3-man crew could pump it out. The Charlotte Coast Guard Station dispatched its motor lifeboat to the scene where it found the 50-ton cable boat listing to its port side.

They removed the crew and took the boat in tow, but a wave parted the line and the cable boat sank several miles east of Nine Mile Point and offshore from the community of Ontario-on-the-Lake. It was reported that the US Coast Guard intended to salvage the sunken vessel the following week. The US Coast Guard website relating the historic details of their Charlotte Station also mentions that the boat was salvaged and returned to service.

During the past year Kennard contacted friends, Bob Bristol and Tom Mulhall, both of whom were involved the following day in the search effort for the sunken Coast Guard boat.

They believed that the reported salvage operation actually never happened. Bristol was living at Ontario-on-the-Lake in 1977 and could directly view the area of the lake where the boat went down. Utilizing the search information provided by his friends, Kennard and Scoville located the final position of the ship and were surprised with what they found.

The Coast Guard cable boat landed stern first and has remained that way, never coming fully to rest on the bottom. Being a converted landing craft, it had more weight concentrated in the rear causing it to remain upright on its stern. Over the years, 12 feet of the cable boat have sunk into the bottom.

The lake currents have created an 8-foot crater completely surrounding the vessel, and it is now leaning over at an angle of 45 degrees. The cable boat is completely covered with zebra mussels, two inches thick in some places. On one occasion, a large quantity of Lake Bass was seen congregating around the shipwreck.

The sunken Coast Guard cable boat can potentially provide an interesting local shipwreck for Rochester area recreational SCUBA divers and an excellent location for area fishermen. Kennard and Scoville plan to release the location of the shipwreck site in the near future on their website:

About the exploration team
Jim Kennard has found over 200 shipwrecks during the past 30 years and explored the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, NY Finger Lakes, and the Inland Waterways. Using his experience as an electronics engineer, he built the side scan sonar system used to locate many of the undiscovered ships that sank in those waters. His discovery in 1983, with partner Scott Hill, of a unique horse powered ferryboat in Lake Champlain was featured the October 1989 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Dan Scoville is an experienced cave and "technical" diver. He utilizes custom gas mixtures of oxygen, helium, and nitrogen to dive to depths of over 300 feet. Scoville is the owner of StealthDive, a Rochester New York based company, specializing in the manufacture of underwater lighting and SCUBA diving accessories.

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